Optical Fibre : a Review

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Executive Summary

Optical fibres are being increasingly used in the telecommunications industry. They are slowly replacing the conventional copper cables due their superior ‘data transmission’ properties. They transmit data via light pulses within glass or plastic strands. Fibre optics fit the material requirements for good data transmission since they are ability to transmit and preserve quality of signals, durable and cost-effective. Some of the current materials employed within the industry are glasses (oxide and non-oxide), polymers and metals (copper cable). The properties of silica glasses (oxide glasses) and fluoride glasses (non-oxide) were examined. Silica glasses were found to be the most suitable material for optical fibres due to its formability and ability to be doped with various materials to control their optical properties. The processing route for silica optical fibres involves 2 stages. The first stage is the formation of the silica optical fibre preform by ‘Modified Chemical Vapour Deposition (MCVD)’. The second stage is the drawing of the silica optical fibre preform using a ‘drawing tower’. The current and potential markets for optical fibre apart from telecommunications are medical, military, industrial and broadcast. Glasses are preferable for the usage in fibre optics compared to other materials such as ceramics, metals and polymers. Based on the research done, we strongly believe that the application of optical fibres in these industries will be successful since optical fibres have better overall performance such as being lightweight, durable, have better data transmission properties and are immune to electrical disturbances compared to the copper cablings.

Contents List

Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………..…. 1 Contents List ……………………………………………………………………..…… 2 Glossary of Abbreviations ……………………………………………………..…… 3

1.0Introduction ………………………………………………………………..….. 4 2.0Body of report …………………………………………………………..…….. 5

2.1Material requirements …………………………………………..…… 5 2.2Current materials employed in the industry ………………..…… 5 2.3Glasses under consideration ………………………………..…….. 6

2.3.1Oxide glasses – Silica Fibres ………………………………….…... 6 2.3.2Non oxide glasses – Fluoride Fibres ……………………..………. 6

2.4Processing route of silica fibres ………………………….……….. 7

2.4.1 The First Route - fabrication of preform silica-based glass ….……... 7 2.4.2 The Second Route - Drawing the preformed silica glass into 125 m diameter fibres ……………………………………………….. 8

2.5Current and potential markets involved ………………………………….. 9 2.6The summary of benefits to be gained by the use of glasses in fibreoptics and the disadvantages to overcome ………….…. 10

3.0A brief argument indicating our views as to whether the application will be successful in the future …………………………………………….. 11 4.0Conclusions ……………………………………………………………………. 12 5.0 References …………………………………………………………………….. 13

Glossary of Abbreviations

1) dB/km -Decibels per kilometre

2) MCVD-Modified Chemical Vapour Deposition

3) FOS-Fibre Optics Sensing

4) EMI-Electromagnetic Interference

5) POFs-Plastic Optical Fibres
1.0 Introduction
In recent years, fiberoptics has slowly gained popularity and importance in the telecommunications industry. It transmits data using pulses of lights to carry data along strands of glass or plastic. This method has proved to be more successful and efficient compared to the conventional ‘copper wire’ which transmits electrical current. That is one of the sole reasons as to why the steady gain of popularity.

This case study examines the uses and applications of fibreoptics used in the telecommunications industry. We aim to understand: * The material requirements to transmit data (see Section 2.1) * The current materials used and their corresponding...
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